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Accusing disabled workers of theft

Most workers in New York and across the country who have disabilities are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The purpose of the law is to prevent employment discrimination against people with disabilities and make sure that employers make reasonable accommodations for them. Two cases of alleged employee theft resulted in the employees receiving compensation after their employers were charged with violating the ADA.

In the first case, an employee at Walgreens who is diabetic was charged with theft after she opened a bag of potato chips prior to purchasing them from the store. The employee was having a low blood sugar attack and had no food of her own in her possession, although she was allowed to keep candy bars with her during her shift because of her diabetes. After eating some chips, she attempted to purchase the bag but found no one at the register. She left the open bag at the register and resumed her work duties. Later she was fired for the incident.

In a similar case, a diabetic Dollar General employee was denied her request to keep juice with her at her register. During a low blood sugar attack she drank juice from the store's cooler, and then paid for it at the register. She told her manager what she did and was later fired.

In each of these cases, the employees were awarded compensation when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed lawsuits against their employers. EEOC said that in the Dollar General case, the company cited a policy that forbids employees to keep food or drink at the register, but the manager was unaware of a policy that would have allowed an exception in the diabetic employee's case.

The Dollar General case shows that while employers are obligated to ensure their employees' rights, they might not always be fully aware of company policies in regards to those rights. Workers who believe they have been discriminated against or treated unfairly at work could seek information about their employee rights by meeting with an attorney.

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